Call for NZMA to stop misinforming voters on End of Life Choice

Yes for Compassion and pro-choice doctors, have today called for the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) to stop spreading deceptive End of Life Choice information.


An excerpt from the NZMA ‘Fact Sheet’ on End of Life Choice says “… the medical practitioner entrusted to make this assessment does not require any previous contact with the person and does not need to be qualified in the specialty relevant to the person’s condition. It is not clear if this criteria would be met for a person that declines (or cannot afford) treatment or services without which they would be likely to die within 6 months….. It is unclear how “advanced state” will be defined. It is unclear whether decline would be considered to be irreversible in circumstances where it is due to a person being unable to access (or afford) appropriate care or services. It is not clear whether a person in a steady state of physical disability such as a quadriplegic would meet this criterion.


“This information is deliberately misleading or completely false,” says Dr Miles Williams, Cardiologist at Hawkes Bay DHB.


“It is wholly irresponsible from an association who purports to speak on behalf of all Doctors and uses that position to influence voters against End of Life Choice.


“The NZMA did the same thing with cannabis but yesterday, four days out from the Election, changed its position. Today we’re calling on them to stop their deceit on End of Life Choice,” says Dr Williams.


Dr Williams says with just 3,000 members, out of 18,000 doctors in New Zealand, the NZMA does not speak on behalf of all doctors.


“Many of us support End of Life Choice because medicine must combine a science-based approach with one that incorporates human and ethical considerations. The whole package must be based on trust. The ethics of assisted dying are clear, there are reasoned arguments showing it is ethical for a doctor to assist a dying person to die,” says Dr Williams.


“NZMA’s persistent insistence that assisted dying is unethical reflects an increasingly isolated position. It is not supported by the World Medical Association which removed it from their position statement on Euthanasia in 2019. It is also inconsistent with the NZMA’s own statement on the ethics of abortion, part of which reads “Rather than an absolute, dichotomous, rights-based “right to life” versus “right to choose” lens to view abortion, we suggest a pragmatic alternative…””.


Dr Williams says for doctors who support End of Life Choice, the movement can be summarised as follows:

  • This is not a life and death issue. It is a dying and death issue.
  • This is not an act that gives doctors the right to take away life. It is an act that gives doctors the right to assist dying people to die.
  • This is not a movement initiated by doctors or governments. This is a global movement instigated by ordinary people facing personal tragedy.
  • This is not experimental legislation. This is legislation similar (and stricter) to that available to millions of people around the world (and no country with this legislation has ever seen fit to reverse it).
  • There is no evidence of deterioration in doctor patient relationships (in fact they are enhanced), there is no evidence the vulnerable or disabled are at risk, there is no evidence of coercion and there is no evidence of normalisation of suicide or increase in suicide rates.


“The truly vulnerable are those who are truly dying with unbearable suffering and who are refused the help they request on the grounds their suffering is necessary and will end at the appointed time,” says Dr Williams.




Pro-choice Doctors include:

Dr Libby Smales, Specialist Palliative Care Physician CNZM FAChPM, MBBS

Dr Lance O’Sullivan

Dame Margaret Sparrow, Sexual Health Physician (retired)

Dr Cindy Towns, Consultant Internal Medicine Physician and Geriatrician

Dr Stanley Koshy, GP

Dr Jack Havill ONZM, Intensive Care Medicine Specialist (retired)

Dr Miles Williams, Cardiologist

Dr Richard Luke, Cardiologist

Dr James Curtis, Respiratory Physician

Dr Nik Krawchenko, Medical Registrar

Dr Hamish Liggins, GP Registrar

Dr Malcolm Arnold, Gastroenterologist

Dr Mike Halstead, Medical Registrar

Dr Shannon McCarthy, Medical Registrar

Dr Alan Stanley, Neurologist

Dr Baneet Singh, Medical Registrar

Dr Kate Kerse, Medical Registrar

Dr Brad Sandleback, Emergency Medicine Consultant

Dr Grant Cave, Intensive Care Consultant

Dr Mariusz Wolbinski, Cardiologist

Dr Emma Jones Medical Registrar

Dr Ruud Horlings, Dermatologist             

Dr Alison Bennett, GP

Dr Christine Maslowski, Retired GP

Dr Jim Stewart, Cardiologist

Dr Peter Ruygrok, Cardiologist

Dr Rachael Leigh,  General Physician

Dr Frank Kueppers Urologist

Dr James Davidson, Pathologist (retired)

Dr John Musgrove, GP (retired)

Dr Rowan Stephens, GP (retired)

Dr David Robins, GP/Anaesthetist/Obstetrician (retired)

Dr Tanya Quin, GP

Dr John Bonning

Dr Gary Payinda, Emergency Medicine Specialist

Dr Carol Shand, GP (retired)

Dr Barry Suckling, GP (retired)


Dr Alison Knowles MBChB Dip Obs FRNZCGP


Dr E Jane MacDonald

Dr Peter Feltham, GP (retired)

Dr John Duncan FRNZCGP

Dr Stuart Tiller FRNZCGP. MPH.

Dr Erich Kusel FRNZCGP GP

Dr James Aubrey, GP (retired)

Dr David Levy, Consultant Emergency Medicine

Dr Rochelle Wilson, GP (retired)

Dr David Davidson, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Specialist

Dr Noel Nicholson, Otolaryngologist


Media contact: Frankie Bennett – 020 4131 7350